This post may contain affiliate links.
I haven’t always had a strong relationship with God. My entire life I’ve know the importance of having a relationship with him, I’ve known I should and I’ve known there were standards that I should live my life by. However, I haven’t always done it and it most times it hasn’t been an easy road to follow.
Growing up I went to church with my family fairly often, I was baptized when I was eight and I was taught great morals. I sang primary songs, attended youth activities and seriously my Mom and Dad were the best examples and have always taught me to be a good person. I made lots of friends and remember having a blast at church as a kid.
When I was about 16-17 I decided I wasn’t interested anymore in church. I had different priorities; boys, partying, pretty much everything other than church. I stayed out late, didn’t listen to my parents, I threw a fit about going to church every Sunday and even though I felt like what I was doing was wrong I didn’t care. I was on top of the world and I was “happy”. I felt like with church and having a relationship with God came too much responsibility, too much pressure and people who did have a relationship with him weren’t really happy or having fun. As far as I was concerned I was having the time of my life, I was doing exactly what that world told me would bring me happiness. I was making new friends, partying every weekend, sneaking around and rebelling at every chance I had. I ditched seminary (a church class I took in high school) to hang out with my boyfriend and I swore just because it was cool every chance I had. I disrespected my teachers, my parents, my church leaders (because my parents made me go) and I did what the world told me would make me happy. Then one day, a year later, it hit me and it hit me hard.
I wasn’t happy. I was miserable, I was exhausted and things weren’t working out like they were supposed to, but it didn’t make sense. I was going out late with friends, sneaking out and pushing limits on the daily, wasn’t that what made people happy? Taking risks? Living to the fullest and doing everything they can? I mean, that’s what all my new friends were doing and they were having the time of their lives! Why wasn’t I happy? Why did I feel like everything I was doing was wrong? It didn’t make sense, but I truly didn’t have a good gut feeling most times when I was out doing things that I was always taught were wrong.
Then something happened, it hit me, maybe God was the answer, maybe. What did I really have to lose? I was already so lost, so I went to church again. Since I was over 18 at this point I wasn’t forced to go and I didn’t, until this Sunday. The Sunday that changed my life. I went, then I left half way through. I know, I know you’re like what? I felt uncomfortable, this was “new” to me in a sense. I hadn’t been around a church in awhile or spiritual people. So…I ran, it’s what I did best, I ran from the uncomfortable feeling and drove up to a random spot overlooking the city, just to think, to clear my head. I turned on music and sat on the hood of my car. Music is my go to, still to this day. When I was getting ready to leave my car wouldn’t start. I tried several times, it wouldn’t start. I opened the hood (like I would actually know what to do), nothing. I got back in and tried again, still it didn’t even try to start, it was completely dead. I burst into tears, nothing was going right. I ruined everything and now I was in the middle of nowhere with no cellphone reception and my car wouldn’t start. After many tears, curse words and frustration I remembered what I had been taught since I was little. It was the “grade school” answer to my problems, I hoped anyways. I prayed, I poured my heart out and pretty much just asked for help. I begged for my car to please start and apologized for messing so many things up in my life, then I sat there for a few minutes. I was scared, what if my car didn’t start, what would I do? I doubted, I wondered and I tried to have faith, but I really couldn’t. It had been so long since I had really talked with God and poured out my heart to him, since I had tried to have faith in something that it was nearly impossible for me. I kept thinking, eh it’s not real, he’s not going to hear me or my problems, I’m stuck here. Finally…I worked up the courage and attempted to start my car. It started. Y’all MY CAR STARTED. This wasn’t a coincidence. I know with all my heart it was God. God listened and he was my saving grace that day even though I didn’t have the faith or relationship with him that I should have.
That day changed my life. No, I didn’t immediately gain a testimony of the gospel or fix every aspect of my life, in fact it took time, it took several years of trying and failing before I figured it out. It’s hard to break old habits, to start new ones and change your entire life. I went back to church though, I worked hard at building a relationship with God and I met the man of my dreams in the making. Quite honestly, he’s the one that sealed the deal, he is the person that taught me so much about the church and really got me on the right path.
Now I’m happy, I’m so happy. I know and I take advantage of the importance of God in my life. I still have hard days, I still have HARD trials, no doubt about it, but the difference is now I have someone to lean on. Someone to really get me through it and give me peace, my Father in Heaven. I have a testimony and I know the church is true. I live my life to make God happy and to one day be reunited with my forever family. Just knowing that my Grandma and my Uncle Dean (both whom I were so close to and helped raise me) are watching over me and that one day I will see them again, knowing that families are forever, is the best feeling in the world. Having God next to me and in my life changes everything. My trials are more bearable, still hard, but bearable and I can find the faith to push through them.
I know what it feels like to not be close to God and I don’t ever want to feel like that again. My name is Jess, I’m a Mormon and I know God and his son Jesus Christ are real. I’m Mormon by choice.
Photography by Angela Minnick Photography